Talking Lions and Lion Talk: Davidson on Conceptual Schemes

Synthese 80 (3):347 - 371 (1989)
This essay is a reconstruction and defense of Davidson's argument against the intelligibility of the notion of conceptual scheme. After presenting a brief clarification of Davidson's argument in 'On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme', I turn to reconstructing Davidson's argument. Unlike many commentators, and occasionally Davidson, who hold that the motive force of the argument is the Principle of Charity (or the denial of the Third Dogma), I argue that there is a further principle which underlies the argument. This principle I call the Strong Discrimination Principle. But the argument of the paper is not purely exegetical. Not only do I show how the Strong Discrimination Principle meets certain objections to Davidson's argument, but I show how the Principle clarifies the realist position. In particular, I show how a line of argument advanced by Rorty and Putnam against (metaphysical) realism can be rejected.
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